Forty years ago, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Now he's set to be released unconditionally next June after several years of gradually loosening restrictions, NPR reported Monday morning.
After Hinckley wounded President Reagan and three others during a failed March 30, 1981, assassination attempt, which he claimed to have done, at least in part, in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was then institutionalized at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years.
Hinckley has seen his restrictions loosened over the last several years, most notably a judge ruled in July 2016 that he was no longer a danger to himself or the public and could live with his mother full time in Williamsburg, Virginia. His mother died this summer at the age of 95, NPR reported.
The would-be assassin, who is now 66, got final word from the court Monday that he would be released without restriction in June 2022.
Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman announced the decision as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, according to NPR, and noted that "very few patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital have been studied more thoroughly than John Hinckley."
"If he hadn't tried to kill the President, he would have been given unconditional release a long, long, long time ago," Friedman said, according to CNN. "I followed the law, I followed the evidence, and I followed the science. I'm very comfortable with where we are. I think it's probably overdue. ... My caution, with taking incremental steps, should give us all a great deal of comfort that everything is going to be just fine."
Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, called the decision a "momentous event" and asserted that "there is no evidence of danger whatsoever."
The DOJ noted that it will be monitoring Hinckley before his final release in June. From NPR:
Prosecutor Kacie Weston said the Justice Department agreed to a settlement but wanted to monitor Hinckley for the next nine months because of two big changes in his life: He's living on his own for the first time in about 40 years, and because one of his primary doctors is preparing for retirement and disbanding Hinckley's therapy group. The Justice Department said it would file a motion with the court before June if it had fresh concerns about Hinckley.
"Ultimately your honor, at this point, the ball is in Mr. Hinckley's hands," Weston said.
Rolling Stone reported that Hinckley on Monday apologized to the people he had shot, the American public, and, of course, Jodie Foster.